Shin-Soo Choo is one of the most undervalued fantasy baseball players in the entire MLB. Despite a very impressive 2009 season in which Choo's batting average was .300 and he went 20/20, Choo's average draft position was a low 74.7 in ESPN standard leagues.
Choo repeated his 2009 campaign in 2010, actually improving in some categories, and deserves to be a household name at this point.
But how high should you draft Choo? Does his versatility launch him into the third round or does his lack of an elite category drag him down to the fifth round?
My perspective is that Choo is one of the most consistent players in the MLB and he puts up very strong numbers, however, I would hesitate taking him in the third round due to the plethora of talent in that spot. If I was able to take Choo in round four, I would consider that a good value pick.
I will go through each of Choo's strengths and weaknesses, explaining why I believe he should be drafted as high as 30-33.
Choo has been one of the most consistent pure hitters in all of baseball dating back to 2007. His batting average during those years in chronological order have been as follows: .294, .309, .300, .300.
In 2010, only 23 qualified players hit .300 or above. Therefore, Choo is in an elite group regarding batting average. Even if you were to expand the requirement to a minimum of 300 plate appearances, still only 35 players hit .300 or higher.
It is clear that batting average is one of Choo's strengths fantasy-wise, and his consistency makes him a great player to draft because having him will allow you to draft power hitters who may have low batting averages.
For example, Choo will allow you to draft players like Adam Dunn, who will not hit above .280, however Choo's very high batting average will even your team out.
Choo is certainly not know to be a big power hitter in fantasy baseball circles. However, Choo has hit 20+ home runs in two straight seasons now, a statistic not to be overlooked. Keep in mind, Choo only played 144 games in 2010 due to a stint on the disabled list, yet he still managed 22 home runs. It is clear that Choo has the potential to hit 25+ home runs in 2011.
For comparison's sake, 61 players hit 22 or more home runs this past season. However, only 15 of those players also posted a batting average of .300 or higher. Therefore, while Choo may not have elite power, he has above average power that compliments his other skills.
Choo's speed is very comparable to his power.
In 2009, Choo stole 21 bases, followed by 22 in 2010. Choo's ability to steal bases is extremely valuable because there is not an abundance of 20+ stolen base players as there is 20+ home run hitters.
In 2010, just 32 players stole 22 or more stolen bases. Furthermore, only four of those players also hit 22 or more home runs. To take it even further, only Choo and Carlos Gonzalez hit .300 with 22+ home runs and 22+ stolen bases. It is safe to say that Choo is a poor man's Carlos Gonzalez.
As you can see, Choo's versatility is very rare among major leagues and it more than makes up for his lack of a dominant category.
Runs Batted In
Again, Choo is not known for his ability to drive in runs. Many people assume that he is a player with decent power on a poor offense, therefore he cannot drive in runs. However, Choo drove in 90 tuns in 2010, which was preceded by an 86 RBI season in 2009.
Are there elite numbers? No. However, they are once again above average.
If you take into account Choo's injury in 2010 and the fact that Cleveland will be getting back Sizemore and will see development in Matt LaPorta and Carlos Santana, Choo is certainly a threat to drive in 100 runs in 2011.
One reason to draft Choo is that you know he will produce. Unlike many unreliable players or injury risks such as Josh Hamilton, Choo is as consistent as you can ask for. In 2010, there was not a month of the season where Choo's batting average dropped below .250, nor was there a month in 2009 where his average dropped below .274 (excluding October for he only had eight at-bats).
I previously mentioned how consistent Choo's average has been over the years, and the same goes for his power and speed.
If Choo has any Achilles' heel, it is the lack of runs he scores. However, the bright side is that it is not his fault. Choo has a career .391 on-base percentage, extremely high.
It is without a doubt his teammates' fault for his lack of runs scored. Choo has never exceeded 87 runs scored in a single season.
However, the silver lining is that the Indians should have a much more dynamic offense with the (hopefully) healthy return of Grady Sizemore and the development of Carlos Santana and Matt LaPorta. If all goes accordingly, runs scored could actually become one of Choo's strengths. Though it is not advised to draft with 100+ runs expected.
No Dominant Category
I have alluded to this idea many times in this article. Choo will not dominate any category; he does not rank in the top-10 of any major offensive category (fantasy-wise). This will certainly hinder people from drafting him, however, his versatility more than makes up for it.
Choo is a great player to build around, as he is consistent and produces all-around. However, he is not a great player to rely on to carry your team, as he does not have the ability to flat out dominate.
Choo is in an elite group hitting .300 with 22 or more home runs and stolen bases. Whatever your team looks like entering round four, Choo will fit in perfectly. Draft him with confidence from picks 33 on.